The opening scene of the “The Nutcracker” is one that would be familiar to families today. It’s Christmas Eve at the Stahlbaum’s house, which is decorated in all manner of Christmas finery — stockings, wreaths, mistletoe and a Christmas tree bedeck the family’s halls. While waiting for their Christmas party to begin, the children, Fritz and Clara, meet Godfather Drosselmeyer, a toymaker who brings gifts to the children at the party.
The plot begins to thicken when Fritz, the pesky brother, grows jealous of a nutcracker Clara has received, and breaks it during a game with other boys at the party. Drosselmeyer fixes the toy and returns it to Clara. Later, she falls asleep under the Christmas tree, the nutcracker tucked safely in her arms. Then things get interesting. Clara, in a deep slumber, has a dream in which mice, who come out of nowhere, and are led by their Mouse King, and wage battle with Clara’s beloved Nutcracker.
Based on the book, “The Nutcracker and the Mouse King” by E.T.A. Hoffman, music for “The Nutcracker” was written by Russian composer Peter Tchaikovsky in the early 1890s.
Now in its second year of production, the ballet, with its familiar, soaring music by Tchaikovsky, will be presented by Golden Isles Ballet Company, and its cast of more than 70 dancers, Dec. 9-11 at the Brunswick High School Auditorium.
The ballet company was founded in August 2015 by Val Salnikov and Bess Chambliss.
Rehearsals began in September for the four performances of the ballet, said Chambliss.
Dancers in principal roles include Anna-Grace Mallon as Clara for the 7 p.m. Saturday and 2 p.m. Sunday shows, and Emma Stutzer is Clara for the 7 p.m. Friday and 2 p.m. Saturday shows. Several professional dancers will also perform, including Jorge Barani and Meisy Laffitte as The Sugar Plum Fairy and Cavalier. Two dancers from the Dance Alive Theatre in Gainesville will also be featured: Ashley Lunn as Black Swan, Spanish and Russian and Andy Valadon as Russian, Spanish and Gardner.
St. Simons Island resident Mary Banks Shelander will dance the role of the Dew Drop Fairy, and Chambliss and Salnikov will dance the Snow Queen and King roles.
Proceeds from the show, Chambliss said, will help support dance scholarships.
“We are so thrilled to expand our school, and our nonprofit foundation, which supports scholarships for kids to take dance that may need financial support,” she explained. “We are proud to expose our dancers to some of the best professional ballet dancers in the world. We love seeing the kids inspired to work harder and perform even better than they imagined.”
Chambliss said “The Nutcracker” is a Christmas staple.
“The music and choreography are timeless and beautiful,” she said. “The story transports us all away from our daily reality into a magical dream world of children’s fantasy.
“It just doesn’t feel like Christmas without ‘The Nutcracker.’”